Narcissists love using shame as a weapon. Not only does it make them feel superior, but it takes attention off of their bad behavior while simultaneously discrediting their victim. It also makes a victim easy to control. Shame is a very effective weapon.
There are various ways narcissists use shame.
Narcissists reinvent the past. They tell stories differently than they actually happened. They either claim to be the reason someone succeeded or twist the story so the other person looks stupid, like a failure, etc. Since narcissists speak with such certainty, this can make a victim doubt their own memories & feel ashamed for something they didn’t even do.
They tell embarrassing stories about their victim. Narcissistic parents in particular seem to love this one. They tell stories that the victim would rather people don’t know about. My mother used this one with me, telling stories (usually in front of other people) of when I was a child & did stupid things. When I said I didn’t want her discussing these stories, she would shame me for how I felt, saying I was wrong & shouldn’t feel the way I did. It took a long time to realize that I wasn’t wrong- my feelings were just & this was nothing but an attempt on her part to make me feel shame.
Playing the role of victim. No matter what a narcissist does to a victim, they have the amazing ability to spin the situation in their favor, so they look like the victim, & the real victim is abusive. This can create shame in a victim very easily unless the victim is well aware of this game.
Religion can become a weapon. No true narcissist can be a Christian at the same time. Narcissism is diametrically opposed to the beliefs of Christianity. However, that doesn’t mean a narcissist won’t use Christianity to shame victims. Growing up, my mother told me I was going to hell for how badly I treated her. Later in life, a flying monkey said I was a bad Christian for treating my parents as I do & claiming to be a Christian. Thankfully, I also have a good enough relationship with God to know what they said was utter nonsense. If I didn’t, that comment would have caused a great deal of hurt & doubting my salvation!
“I was only joking!” “You’re too sensitive!” Nasty comments said to a victim followed by, “I was just kidding!” “Can’t you take a joke?” “You’re so sensitive!” & the like are also designed to make a victim feel ashamed for being righteously angry that they were offended by the narcissist’s cruel words. The goal is to make you feel ashamed of yourself for not realizing the narcissist was only kidding (which they weren’t) or being so sensitive you were offended by their “joke.” Don’t fall for it. You aren’t wrong!
Comparisons. If you & the narcissist have done similar things, you can guarantee the narcissist has done it better, at least if you listen to her side of the story. Everything with narcissists is a pissing contest (sorry to be crude- that’s the best term I know of to describe this situation). If you found a cure for cancer, they found it first, but didn’t want to brag like you’re doing! See what I mean? If they can make you feel badly for not being as good or as talented as them, that sows a seed for shame in you.
Talking down to others. Even a narcissist that isn’t overly intelligent can make a very intelligent victim feel stupid, & ashamed of being so stupid. Narcissists love to talk in circles & use big words (often that they don’t know the proper definition of & not in context). If you leave a conversation with a narcissist & your head is swimming, it’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because narcissists are masters of talking in circles, which is also known as word salad.
Acting as if the narcissist is the adult, the victim the child. This is very common among narcissistic parents. They’re all about keeping their children, children, no matter their child’s age. A person who thinks they’re immature & not wise like the narcissist is very easy to control. Narcissistic parents may continue using a tone of voice that intimidated their children when they were growing up well into that child’s adulthood. They may call victims immature or mock them with phrases like, “You’re such a baby/child!” “You’re so immature!” “You need to grow up!”
Remember this post if you’re faced with these behaviors. You do NOT need to feel shame! No one should put that on you, but narcissists will try to. If they do, never accept it. Ask God to tell you the truth. Also, look at your situation objectively & you will realize the truth. Write about it in a journal, too, since writing often gives a great deal of clarity that speaking can’t. You can deal with this unhealthy behavior in a healthy way!